Presenting your photography portfolio is identical to the presentation of any product or service to the marketplace, and compelling a specific audience to buy it. This is the essence of marketing and advertising; and like marketing and advertising, you must know your audience thoroughly before you can present them with a message (in the form of a portfolio of photographs). The message of what you’re offering must help them solve a problem or fulfill a need, be memorable and have the motivational power to cause them to act, i.e., hire you instead of another photographer.
Once you’ve done your homework and understand how you can help a prospective client, you’re ready to assemble a targeted portfolio. Start by returning to the concept of the appropriate message that addresses the specific need of the client. The group of photos in your portfolio and what you say during the presentation interview should be encapsulated in a straightforward, brief message that becomes imbedded in the client’s mind. You want him or her to remember that message and use it to compare you favorably to other candidates. Complicated messages are not remembered or are confusing. K.I.S.S. is your mantra for this step.
The message of your portfolio should reveal your world-view perspective. Great photos may be interesting to see, but they are rather empty if they don’t tell your story. Your client should be able to understand how your background and lifestyle (education, cultural orientation, emotional state, etc.) has influenced the kind of photos you take and how you take them (lighting, composition, etc.)
You can be more assured that the client recognizes your message and perspective immediately when the photos in your portfolio are powerfully connected. Although you want the photos to be concisely targeted to the client’s need or problem, don’t just select the most obvious. Add a few that enhance and broaden your appeal as they also include elements related to your targeted message.
As mentioned earlier, a photography portfolio presentation is a competition. Other photographers will be presenting photos of a similar type. To send a message that the client will strongly remember among the flood of portfolio he or she will see, your photos must have a distinctiveness that the other photographers can’t match. Not only is this a competitive advantage, but it also establishes a powerful trust relationship with the client. If you’re able to fulfill his or her specific need, then you are more likely to receive future assignments of a broader nature.
It should be unnecessary to mention that you must present yourself as a professional, both as an individual and as represented by your portfolio. Within reason, it is acceptable to reveal yourself as a creative person, even a bit eccentric, in your dress, but it should, first and foremost, be appropriate. Your portfolio should be similarly “groomed.” A somewhat small, but critical, component of your professional presentation is that you are ready to share your portfolio as soon as you arrive. Save the chitchat for later and move right to your message. A brief, concise photography portfolio presentation is often as appreciated as the work the client is viewing.
This How To Photography article explains 6 photography portfolio presentation steps you can take that will maximize the number of assignments you receive.
If you’ve chosen to be or aspire to be a professional photographer, then you’ve agreed to enter the world of commerce. As such, you must sell yourself and your work to editors, clients, etc. in a competitive environment. Knowing how to compete increases your likelihood of receiving a maximum number of assignments and succeeding as a professional. Undoubtedly, the most critical moment in the sales process is the presentation of your portfolio. By following the 6 steps in this PhotographyTalk.com article, you’re more likely to impress clients not just with your photography, but also your personality and professionalism, and position yourself at or near the top of their list of photographers they want to hire.
Just as a marketing firm or advertising agency uses market studies and demographic data to understand the target audience for a specific product or service, you must do your homework to learn as much as you can about the publication, stock photo company, advertising agency or client you are pitching. Without this foreknowledge, you won’t understand the client’s need and, by inference, which photos to show him or her. You are also unlikely to be able to converse with him or her intelligently about how you can satisfy the need. Other than your appearance, nothing will reveal your lack of professionalism quicker than a lack of understanding of the client and the problem you can solve for him or her.
Image credit: syaochka / 123RF Stock Photo
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